Allison Bailes’s new book, A House Needs to Breathe … Or Does It?, is the best available introduction to building science for residential designers, contractors, and owner-builders. GBA readers in search of a building science reference work should go out and buy a copy.
Bailes has been writing blogs for GBA for years; his inaugural article, Is There a Downside to Lumpy Attic Insulation?, appeared in January 2011. Bailes is a Georgia-based energy consultant, HVAC system designer, and blogger. He’s known for his folksy ability to explain complex building science topics with an entertaining (and occasionally corny) sense of humor—an approach that allows readers to grasp difficult concepts even as they occasionally roll their eyes.
A House Needs to Breathe … Or Does It? is a handsome 360-page hardback. It is generously illustrated with clear photographs and well labeled multi-color graphs. The book’s designers and editors deserve a share of the praise that the book’s author has justly earned.
While the book retains Bailes’s accessible style, the reference work is mostly sober and straightforward. To Bailes’s credit, his new book tones down his corny sense of humor (although he couldn’t resist his urge to republish the photo of a naked man jumping on a bed).
The starting point is physics
Many authors (including several GBA bloggers) have published books aiming to advise designers, builders, or homeowners on ways to build durable, comfortable buildings that use less energy than conventional buildings. Each book has a different focus. Compared to other similar books, Bailes’s book has fewer jobsite tips for weatherization workers and builders, and more information on the physics underlying building science. Bailes takes deep dives into issues like vapor diffusion, adsorbtion, and heat flow calculations.
Readers who are focused on green building and climate…
Get building science and energy efficiency advice, plus special offers, in your inbox.